36) L.B. Johnson

Back in February of 2006, Jefferson Pitcher, J. Matthew Gerken, and I set about writing and recording the original demos for these Presidents songs as part of the February Album Writing Month challenge (www.fawm.org).  We wrote and did demo recordings of 42 songs (all but G.W. Bush) in Februrary–28 days and 42 songs.  Sheesh. 

In any case, as part of that, we wrote little texts to accompany each new song as we got them up on the FAWM website.  I like looking through them now as they seem part of a crazy, crazy time. 

Burr Settles, a fine songwriter in his own right and the FAWM-lord, was kind enough to get me an html backup of all the original texts we wrote, and it includes the comments other songwriters wrote on the demos as we got them up.  I’m including those as well.

36 Johnson (Lady Bird take Me Home)

by jeff pitcher — 2006-02-23 @ 10:44pm (EST) — Alt/IndieFolk

i am usually one who sees the finish line (metaphorically speaking) and runs like hell to the end, full of energy i did not know that i had. suffice it to say, i am walking at best. limping perhaps. needless to say, just when i think it cannot grow any more difficult to pull a song out, it does. 

johnson. what does one write? he is often seen as something of a failure but in some way i have much sympathy for this man. during college, he took a year off to teach mexican immigrants and said he felt a great depression that our government had failed these people who were too poor to get a college education. this experience he said, stayed with him. anyway, i could write tomes about him, as he tried to both stay in and pull out of vietnam at the same time with horrifying results, but i am tired.

i wrote, imagining him lying in bed at night with his wife (who was nicknamed lady bird) wanting so badly to just leave it all behind. much like truman, i cannot really imagine the pain these men must have had to silence. from all the reading i did about johnson, it seemed he really did feel ruined inside. i guess in some way, whether he was an idiot or not, i feel bad for johnson. what a horrible thing to find yourself mixed up in. 

my mother was a flight attendent during vietnam and used to talk about how awful it was to load the dead bodies onto the planes to come home for burial, hence the line about “bodies on planes.”

i do not care for this song very much, but the finish line looms. hell, i don’t even like my writing about this song. i intended to change this quite a bit, but the computer problems are killing me. i limp onward.


  1. Christian Kiefer | 2006-02-24 @ 02:44am (EST)

    My friend, even your mediocre songs are better than most other songwriters’ material, and this some is hardly even one your mediocre songs. I like it. Perhaps some lyrical work could be done, but there’s a song here–basic and direct but the lamentation is present and it’s effective in its simplicity.

  2. Steven Wilson/Plasticsoul | 2006-02-24 @ 09:45am (EST)

    I love the Plato line. The guitar interplay break is really sweet. the tuning you are using (is it an alternate tuning?) has a very melancholy sound which fits the lyrics well. hearing you sing “ladybird” over and over made me think: next year you guys have to use First Ladies as your song subjects! now THAT will be a challenge.

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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